Mike Watt is the man in the van with a bass in his hand. The Minutemen and fIREHOSE co-founder, who, after taking to the stage with the reformed Stooges, is currently touring with his band the Missingmen, is known for jamming econo since day one. For those of you not familiar with Wattspeak, "jamming econo" is Watt's slang term referring to the idea of doing things economically. For example, touring the country in a Ford Econoline van, carrying your own equipment, booking your own shows -- cutting out the middleman whenever you can.
The Minutemen were known for their short songs and to-the-point lyrics, which also serve as a perfect example for Watt's ethos. Why confine yourself to a "verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus" format of music when you can get your point across in a more economical way -- with crushing bass lines, fast intense drumming and ripping guitar parts clocking in at about one minute and thirty seconds at a time.
Watt's music is also very hard to put into one category and he likes it like that. Fellow Minuteman, the late D. Boon (who tragically died at the age of 27 in a van accident in 1985) once said, "Punk is whatever we made it to be." By this, Boon meant that punk, by definition, was the way in which you did something and not what the music sounded like or what the people playing it wore. It's also been made clear that punk to Watt was never an angle to sell records. Which is exactly the point. Watt considers that labeling shit is the job of marketing men and his job is to make that real hard.
Watt is also relentless in his efforts to keep making music and keep inspiring young people to be creative. Talking with him though, I learned that inspiring people is not what it's all about -- it's also about getting inspired from others in return.
Click HERE to read the full Q&A with Mike.